Home > Archive: September, 2016

Archive for September, 2016

Big art sale!

September 30th, 2016 at 06:20 pm

I dropped off some more woven tapestries of my mother's at a certain art gallery first thing this morning, before the rain began. The gallery owner had told me there had been a certain man looking at my mother's woven pieces in the gallery, and she told me to bring more in; she was pretty certain he was going to buy something.

It took us some time to decide on the pricing. The prices we agreed on were quite a bit lower than my mother's prices and I did feel a little guilty doing that, but I do need to move some of this art out, I don't want to spend a lifetime doing so and I do know my mother changed her prices quite a bit.

The gallery owner called me back this afternoon. As soon as I left, she called the man who had been interested in the weavings and he went back to the shop very quickly. He wound up buying 7 pieces!

The gross sale was $2,785, and after the gallery owner takes her 30%, I'll net $1,950, which I'm pleased about.

For me, though, it's not really about the money, though of course I welcome it, especially not working right now. It's more about moving some of this art out, making room in my home and knowing that new people will enjoy the art. That's what it was created for. In my home, I daydream about having the room someday to really highlight certain favorite pieces I have, but right now there is just so much here I can't do that.

Here's one of the tapestries that sold: Village at Sunset.

Mom would have been very excited about this sale. Whenever she sold something, she would always call me to tell me about it and then I'd ask her to describe which one it was, how much it sold for and how much she netted. It often made her day.

The pieces were purchased by a man who loves art, especially abstract art, and happens to own 2 area nursing homes. The pieces he purchased would go in a conference room and perhaps some offices. He especially liked mom's weavings, as opposed to her woven paintings or paper construction or oils.

There was also a smaller sale ($135) to a customer who had purchased my mother's art before, and before the customer moved to Florida, he came in and bought some more of mom's art to take with him..

I'll head back up to the gallery on Tuesday to collect a check. Smile

After I dropped off the tapestries at the first gallery, I went to the 2nd gallery and picked up some very small stuff that hadn't sold, and she accepted 3 new pieces which we priced together. I also got a small check from this gallery, which takes a 40% commission.

So I'm pretty happy, although I do feel a certain sense of loss and sadness that I'll never see those sold pieces again. It's irrational because at the same time I KNOW I must make room in my home and I can't hang onto everything.

Got the results back from yesterday's blood test. I tested negative for Lyme disease but was instructed to continue taking the antibiotics I just started. It's possible the test was taken too early for the Lyme to show up and it could also be one of the other tickborne illnesses, which she didn't test for. I'm to repeat the blood test in 7 to 10 days if I'm still feeling headachey.

Potential big art sale

September 30th, 2016 at 12:24 am

So tonight I went to an after work hours retirement party for someone I barely knew at the bank; I usually shy away from these sorts of things, but i was touched that my old boss thought to invite me, so I went. And I did enjoy seeing all the old familiar faces, along with a number of people who, like me, had been laid off, some much earlier than me, who had already found new work.

The party was at a brand new brewery in a bad part of town, but there was plenty of security in the parking lot and apparently one of them even followed me to my car in the far end of the parking lot. I had parked in a cornerr and was nearly boxed in and so as I was backign out I saw the security guy standing right there, ready to help.

I left there feeling recharged and upbeat after seeing all the old coworkers. I began thinking again about an interesting article Dido posted on Facebook about introverts who don't like to mingle at these social functions. The article said that maintaining relationships with family is the easy part; the harder part is maintaining relationships with friends, and that we spend the majority of our time with casual friends and acquaintances. Which really is true. Most people don't have a ton of best friends.

I also got a call tonight from a gallery where my mother's work has been; she said a man who was familiar with my mother's work was looking at some of my mother's weavings in the shop, and asked to see more. She's pretty sure he'll end up buying something. So I'm heading up there tomorrow with 6 or 7 other tapestries he may like. Smile

Then I got an email from another gallery where she was asking me to pick up most of the small stuff I have there, except for 2 items, and that if I wanted to bring some new stuff to switch out, I could do that. Not sure how much more small stuff I can bring up there (I donated a lot) and I can't bring the larger stuff becus the prices would exceed the price range of her shop. She does also have a small check for me so something sold.

So tomorrow I'll be running around. I want to stop at BJs on the way back and also fill up the gas tank at BJs, using my Amex card as it will be last day of their 10% back gas station promotion.

Sunday stuff

September 25th, 2016 at 11:11 pm

We paid a visit to my favorite garden center today.

They have a super cool shop. I could spend hours here.

They make a lot of gorgeous succulent arrangements in unusual planters.

Lots of great, warty pumpkins but $18 is a bit much.

Also stopped at the organic farm and got some apples and tomatoes.

Gave dad a bunch of small daffodil bulbs the voles dug up; I replanted about 50 myself and then divided a large gazania plant in brittle resin pot into 3 new plants.

Veggie Garden Roundup

September 24th, 2016 at 12:31 am

It wasn't the biggest garden I've ever had, and half of it was in pots lining my driveway, but given the small effort I put into it, I was pretty satisfied with what I reaped.

Eggplants: This was my greatest success, considering I think I only grew eggplant once before. I had 2 plants; one of them was destroyed by voles, but the remaining plant gave me 9 wonderful eggplants, all of which I used to make my favorite eggplant recipe: baba ganouch.

Cucumbers: This was another great success. I had just 2 cucumber plants; one of them gave me 22 cucumbers (!!!) and the other, a pickle cucumber I accidentally bought, gave me 7 pickled-sized cucumbers. Both of these were potted plants.

Tomatoes: I didn't a ton of tomatoes from my 2 potted plants, just 19 cherry tomatoes from one and 8 small to medium sized tomatoes from the other plant. Believe me, I watered daily for most of the summer.

Stringbeans: Sigh. The string beans I sowed in fenced garden were destroyed by voles. The string beans I sowed near my front door were mowed down by voles. The string beans I sowed in 3 pots in the middle of the driveway, surrounded by fencing, looked absolutely pristine until a woodchuck discovered them late in the season, destroying most of my crop. I had just one good meal with string beans as a result.

Onions: This was a waste of time. I figured the voles would not bother these, and for the most part, I don't think they did, but they took up a lot of space and never really seemed to grow much. I ate them all in a single meal of potatoes, onions and broccoli. I think one problem was they probably didn't get enough water. I dislike having the drag the hose over the driveway stone wall and down the front of the lawn and stand there with the sprayer; it was difficult getting the new sprinkler to send water exactly where I wanted it.

Wineberries: I picked about 2 cups worth of wineberries and blackberries from the thickets surrounding my yard.

I also grew mint, basil and parsley in pots. I will have at least 3 pots of parsley next year to attract more butterfly caterpillars, hopefully earlier in the season, becus it was very special to watch them emerge and make their very first flights.

Earlier tonight I brought all my houseplants indoors as it's going to be much chillier tomorrow morning and overnight. I used the garden hose to thoroughly spray each plant, underside too, to avoid bringing any bugs indoors. Most of them wound up in my upstairs sunny bathroom. Most of them seem to have benefitted from their time outdoors (especially my copper plant, a succulent, and something in the cactus family, although the pothos ivy is looking a little beat up and the aloe looked better inside and was actually very sun-sensitive.

I would like to try to divide a crowded gazanie daisy plant that's resided in a pot for at least 5 years now, successfully overwintering each winter in the garage with 2 other pots of the same plant. They all look great, very bushy, but the one resin pot is crumbling and the plant is big enough I could create 2 plants if I can figure out which pots to use.

I also have a ton of daffodil bulbs, like 50 or so, that were dug up by voles earlier in the summer. Annoying. I have a potted lavender plant I may as well try planting in the ground.

I made a trip to Whole Foods today for just a few things I can't find elsewhere, including organic dried apple rings from the bulk bin, vegan mac and cheese and organic lemon juice in a jar.

I'm feeling a little concerned because the guy who interviewed me for that job on Tuesday had said he would be in touch toward the end of the week to schedule an in-person meeting with me, and I never heard from him. I sure hope he didn't meet other candidates he feels are more qualified but I think that's a possibility.

I was going to do another beach cleanup tomorrow about a half hour away but it starts at 9 and I am feeling a little lazy right now. I always have so much to do at home but seem to always leave that and do shopping errands or something else instead.

I did hang some laundry out to dry outdoors today and I checked in briefly with my job coach. I made more baba ganouch.

Dumb recruiter

September 23rd, 2016 at 12:54 am

Yesterday morning I saw a new job posting, a 3-monthh contract for a writer to do employee communications at a healthcare company. I sent in my resume, and while I was out hiking, the recruiter who posted the job called and left me a message.

I called him back when I returned home from the hike, which was about an hour after he called me. I got his voice mail and left a message; he didn't respond back until after 5 that night, via email, saying sorry, I could only submit 2 candidates for the job and I already found them.

I mean, I called him back just one hour later and it was already too late? Usually a recruiter chooses the top 3 or 4 best candidates for a job; this guy said that 45 people had applied for the job and he was calling all of those who qualified. So instead of getting my resume submitted based on my qualifications, looks like he was submitting resumes based on who could get back to him quickest.

I've never had that happen to me before. I was really annoyed because I had gotten excited about the job, only to be told I was too late. So i told him don't bother contacting me for any more jobs.

Wednesday words

September 21st, 2016 at 03:02 pm

Not sure how I'm supposed to get any work done here...

Hairy monster.

Yesterday's Meals:

Breakfast: My own granola with generous serving of fresh raspberries and unsweetened almond milk.

Lunch: An entire Trader Joe's pesto/broccoli frozen pizza. Dessert: Soy ice cream sandwich. One Brazil nut (supplies the day's requirement of Vit. E)

Dinner: Strangely did not feel hungry but I did make a banana/nectarine/almond milk smoothie and then around 9 pm I sliced up a half a cucumber and ate it plain, including the antioxidant-rich skin.

Waiting for the furnace guy to come and clean/tune up the furnace for the winter season. Once he's come and gone, I want to head over to a nearby Audubon center to do a LONG walk. I'm a bit behind on my walking for this week. I'll stop at Shop Rite on the way home and deposit a $212 check I received for freelance editing.

What your job would be like if your boss was a cat...

September 20th, 2016 at 11:14 pm

Phew. Got thru the interview

September 20th, 2016 at 04:16 pm

I just got through with my phone job interview. It was a 30-minute interview that actually continued for 55 minutes, which I guess is a good thing. I was feeling nervous because I knew this was a writing job where simply being a good writer would not be enough; I would need to understand how to interpret and apply analytic research about online customers' shopping behavior (in terms of clicks here or clicks there, what pages they view and so on) to what and how I write.

I didn't understand a lot of what he said, to be honest, about how their business model works, but this has happened to me before and I did okay. I could tell he was prepared and had a list of specific questions (what salary did I want, why do you want to work for us, are you willing to use analytics in the writing, am I familiar with SEO, why did you leave last company, how do you juggle competing deadlines).

He did ask the dreaded salary question and to my surprise, after I answered in a way that basically avoided answering the question (I'd like to be compensated at a level that's competitive with the industry, based on my background and experience), he did not push for more and he did later say it was a competitive pay with medical/dental, PTO and so on, leading me to believe I might not have to take a pay cut from the $82,700 I was making when I left the bank.

Their CT location is very small, I think, probably no more than 10 people, though I could be wrong. This is based on how many people came up when I searched Linked In for that company. They have more people in their PA location.

When he asked me the question about would I be open to using analytics to inform my content, I came up with a really great metaphor while answering that question which I think he liked. I said, think about a masterpiece painting, like a Picasso. There's not a single brushstroke or dab of paint that is unintended; everything is deliberate, and there for a reason. That's really how I approach my writing, I told him. Language is a tool, like any other tool, that I use to achieve very specific goals.

I thought it was a good metaphor and when I relayed this to my friend R. after the interview, he agreed and thought it was great.

Toward the end I started getting good signals from the interviewer becus he told me in very basic terms what their compensation package includes and the work environment, and I felt like he was trying to sell me on the company a little. He said in all his 25 years of working it was the best work environment. Or maybe I was just the first person he interviewed. He even said something a little complimentary about my resume. He's going to call me during the end of the week to schedule an in-person interview, at which time I will be even MORE nervous than I was this morning.

Job interviews are one of those things that no matter how many times I do them, they don't seem to get any easier. Even when the stakes aren't that high. Meaning, I still have 5 months of unemployment benefits left, I'm in great shape financially and just have a few more years to go before I'll seek to retire. But still, I feel so nervous about interviewing and getting the job and not stumbling over some answer or just blanking out.

In other news...
If your yard's in need of attention or you want to do some planting but are unsure what will work in your area, click on this link below and type in your zip code and email, and you'll get a list of plants (berry-producing shrubs and trees as well as perennial flowers) (with color photos) appropriate for your area, along with the different bird species that plant will attract.

It's part of their drive to plant 1 million native species to help feed birds.

When you see plants you like, you can build your own list of favorites. It's a pretty neat tool.

A little of this, a little of that

September 19th, 2016 at 10:01 pm

I spent most of the day, on and off, prepping for my phone interview tomorrow. I'm reading their website and their case studies, researching certain marketing terms I'm not familiar with, and reviewing my own job history becus I'm a little rusty and not sure what he'll ask.

In between that, my dad came over in the morning and with him here I attempted to access his Santander checking account by creating an online account. It took an hour; we went through the whole long security questions with one rep and then when she was nearly done, she disconnected us and she never called me back so I had to call again and start all over with someone else who got me access to the account.

Dad's had trouble with The Hartford becus they cancelled his auto insurance after claiming they never received payment from him, even though his bank shows the amount due was electronically withdrawn from his account.

I wanted to access a copy of the actual cancelled check so I could email it to The Hartford, but it didn't appear on Santander's site and so they have to retrieve this manually, and that will take up to 2 days.

What a nuisance. Meanwhile, dad has been driving illegally and is takign a risk getting stopped by a cop.

My dad had even gotten his bank and the insurer on the phone together but that did not immediately resolve the problem.

I also was able to find an old friend (husband/wife) of my dad's on Facebook; he remembered they live in CT and now that he's up here, too, I think he would like to reconnect. They were friends when my dad's second wife was still alive.

So I found her on FAcebook and becus she listed where she worked, I called her there and confirmed that it was her. She seemed nice and gave me two of their phone numbers; I know my dad will be excited about it once I reach him on the phone.

I also picked up 3 pieces of unsold art at a local frame shop after the end of an exhibit there.

I attended yet another webinar on creating "SOAR" statements that can be used on your resume and at an interview.

Yesterday we did the 4th road trip with my friend R., this time driving up to Burlington to briefly meet R.'s niece and her 2 girls and then to Collinsville, where we lunch on the patio.

As we were driving, we went past a private home with the most spectacular gardens. I made R. turn around so we could get a second look. It was a busy road so I didn't get out of the car, but this should give you an idea:

Look at the size of those window box plantings!

These manicured and carefully pruned plantings completely surrounded the house on both sides, which you can't really see here, as well as a backyard that sloped uphill, so the view from the road was really stunning.

Here's Luther, wondering what's for dinner.

Oh, and here is me with the other volunteers at the International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday. I'm in the front row, the only one not wearing their t-shirt. (I arrived late and couldn't figure out how everyone managed to change into these shirts when they arrived.)

Busy AM; now it's time to relax!

September 17th, 2016 at 06:14 pm

There were 2 events I wanted to do today and I had to choose one: either the Int'l Coastal Cleanup Day at a beach an hour's drive from here, or the annual health fair here in town.

Since I go to the health fair every year, I decided to push myself to do the litter pickup on the beach. I've participated a few times in past years and found it very enjoyable.

However, I had to leave the house by 8 a.m. to get there in time, which I did. Everyone got a free t-shirt along with garbage bags and gloves, and we were told to form teams.

I was looking forward to wandering up and down a long beach, but this particular park was part picnic grounds and trails and only had a small town beach. Not only that, but it was pretty darn clean to begin with! We had to content ourselves with picking up piles of cigarette butts, for the most part.

At other locations with the usual trash problems, particularly when it washes in with the surf, we'd haul car tires and all sorts of much larger debris, which I have to say is more satisfying when you clean it up.

I did get to talk to a few very nice women about my age, and I especially enjoyed talking about upcoming retirement plans with one of them who was still working full time at age 67! That will not be me! She revealed that she rents, so I can see how forever having that big expense could cause one to hesitate when it came to retirement.

There were about 30 volunteers, and they rounded us all up toward the end for a group photo which I guess will appear on a website somewhere.

There being so little litter, I headed home earlier than expected and found I was home in time to catch the tail end of the health fair, where I got my flu shot, my cholesterol and glucose checked. All good!

I HAD eaten breakfast so my glucose, at 99, was fine.

Normal is less than140 for a non-fasting person.

My overall cholesterol was 186 with HDL at 81 (great), trig at 116 (als0 great) and LDL at 81 (still great). My ratio was 2.3, very, very great.

Having gotten all these key numbers, I may feel more comfortable skipping my physical next spring (or until I get a perm job). Because even though preventive healthcare is supposed to be "free," it's a fairly expensive proposition to get a physical because my doctor's office requires you to come in to discuss the results and while you don't pay anything for the 1st visit, you do pay $25 for the 2nd one. (It's worth it to discuss those results in an unhurried manner.) However, you then have to pay the lab fee for all the bloodwork and I recall that being another $90.

So I saved myself $115 in fees going to the town health fair.

After the health fair I went home and remembered my dad's DNA sample was sitting there and needed to be mailed. I hadn't wanted to leave it in the hot car while i was collecting litter, so I didn't bring it with me, but I also just wanted to get it out in the mail, so I drove it to the Post Office, then stopped at grocery store to pick up a few things and when I got home I made a nice corn, tomato and black bean salad, supplemented with some very colorful organic tomatoes and a small bell pepper I got at the organic farm.

You don't even need to cook the frozen corn, you just dump it in the bowl and let it dethaw. I love cold salads like this. I just add a little salad dressing to coat all.

Now I'm really pooped. There's something about spending a few hours in bright sunlight that just wears me out.

Just going to relax for the rest of the day since tomorrow we have another "outing" planned.

Patient Saver's List

September 17th, 2016 at 02:16 am

Ooh, I played this game once before but I don't remember what was on my list then.

1. I never married and have no kids. (See #19 below for a hint why.)

2. I LOVE to travel and did a fair amount in my 30s, mainly to Europe, about 5 or 6 times, and also at least 3 major trips thru Canada (Canadian Rockies, Yukon, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Laurentian Mts), Mexico, Costa Rica, US Virgin Islands. My favorite state is Alaska.

3. I'm an amateur naturalist and love studying insects, birds, butterflies, critters, you name it.

4. I'm a liberal.

5. Probably the most interesting thing about me are the many unusual jobs I've held, including 2 fun journalism jobs and another one working for a company that investigated insurance fraud cases. I also worked for a nonprofit environmental group that was very hands-on, requiring me to pack and sort over a dozen different types of tree seedlings, and also manage a trout fingerling sale we did as a fundraiser.

6. I also went to law school in Boston, but dropped out after a year (probably a mistake).

7. My favorite color is turquoise.

8. I'm a history buff.

9 I'm a genealogy fanatic.

10 Social injustice bothers me a lot.

11 I am proud of having paid off a 30-year mortgage in 17 years and all the progress I've made saving for my retirement.

12 I'm probably an atheist. Agnostic at best. If I had to pick a religion, it would be Buddhism, and I am interested in Eastern philosophy, yoga, meditation, healthcare, etc.

13 I've been writing for a living all my life, marketing, mostly.

14 My favorite kind of writing happens when I can act as an advocate for others, which is something I did in what was close to my dream job when I worked as a personal finance writer for a consumer website that has since gone belly up.

15 I have had chickadees and wild turkeys eat out of my hand.

16 The beauty, symmetry and synergism of the natural world will always fill me with wonder.

17 I like to record everything I see (using a camera)

18 I am a vegan-in-process with a strong interest in diet and nutrition

19 When I was very young, I was kidnapped by my father during a contentious post-divorce dispute between my parents over visitation. Since that time, I've had 3 step-parents (2 step-fathers and 1 step-mother). My parents outlived them all.

20. I've met one fellow SA blogger here, twice! And would do it again.

Phone interview lined up; mixed feelings

September 17th, 2016 at 01:19 am

I got an email from a job I applied for, asking me to chat on the phone next week.

I haven't really had too many parameters on what kind of company I'd want to work for, although one of them was to shy away from start-ups or very small companies because my past experience has been they can be very unstable, plus pay and benefits are not as good as with a larger firm.

I need to do more research, but this looks to be a very small company that, while not a startup, isn't that old. The company has two businesses, and the one I'm guessing I'd be working for was just rebranded as a separate company in 2013.

The office local to me would be a decent commute; they also have an office in PA.

I'm guessing the main purpose of the phone call is to tease out what salary expectations I would have, and my job, according to a webinar I just took today, is to obfuscate and avoid naming a salary range if at all possible. Get them to share their salary range. If I honestly told them what i was making at the bank, i don't think a small company of this size could match it.

They are not a public company and don't even show up on, so hard to find out much about them. A few press releases, and news of their acquiring another small company, a number of Linked In profiles, stuff about the business with a few business bios on the website, that's about it.

I will devote as much time as possible to prepping for the talk and trying to come up with an acceptable, accurate salary range. This is my 1st "interview" in about 3 years and i do feel rusty.

Honestly, I don't feel like I have to marry the company, only work there for 3 years before my planned retirement. If I love it and wanted to stay longer? Sure, that's always a possibility but right now the game plan calls for an exit after 3 years. So the pay probably doesn't have to exceed or even match the bank salary, although that would very desirable, of course.

I think my goal during the phone call is to make sure I get invited to an in-person interview, and not allow them to eliminate me from consideration based simply on salary. So this is the big question.

Last night we saw Sully, the movie about the United Airlines pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River in an emergency landing. It was pretty good, with Tom Hanks playing Sully.

I want to go back to the movies next week (with dad) to either see the Snowden movie or Paper Lanterns, a movie about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during WWII. The latter one is one-night only.

My revised projected income/expense scenario

September 14th, 2016 at 11:09 am

Whenever I have a major change in income, I like to update my Projected Income & Expense Sheet; it helps me develop a roadmap for the months ahead.

As anticipated, the weekly unemployment benefits I'm now receiving (yes, I discovered 4 weekly checks had been deposited in my checking account already...i thought this would be delayed another month due to my severance) will help me squeak by on essential expenses for the 6 months I can expect to receive them, thru January 2017.

But just barely.

Unemployment benefits in CT for someone with my previous income are $598 a week gross, or $520 a week net. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

My total essential monthly expenses come out to $1,936. (Thank goodness I paid the mortgage off years ago.) I think that's a pretty accurate figure since I based it on the average of the first 8 months of my actual expenses in 2016, year-to-date through August.

Seems like nearly every expense rose at least a little, and some things, like my car insurance and food, rose a lot. However, I anticipate getting a fairly significant discount on the car insurance after signing up for Safeco's "Right Trak" program when my policy renews in October.

My food costs seem astronomical for a single person who doesn't even eat meat or cheese (I'm budgeting $300/mth though I have spent more!), but I do buy a lot of organics. I know I can scale back some of the pricier things I buy. I just need to be more careful, and go back to doing more of my shopping at Shop Rite, not Whole Foods! (Not that I shopped at WF often; it was more of a treat, maybe once every 2 months.)

My biggest single expense increase is my health insurance (no surprise there), which went from about $175 a month while I was employed at the bank for both medical and dental to $513 a month, sans dental, now. I will probably go with the Affordable Care Act during open enrollment this November, though I am worried about how competitive prices will be after hearing how United Health Care and Connecticare both are dropping out of the marketplace. Not sure how many insurers that leaves (maybe just one??), but it is never good to reduce the competition! They were all so eager to do this becus they envisioned millions more captive policyholders who would be required by law to buy their health insurance. Now they find they're not making as much money as they thought, so they want an out. Doesn't seem fair if people still are legally forced to buy health insurance.

I'm fairly confident I will benefit this winter from cheaper heating oil prices. I filled up my tank this past summer and that should last me through December with just one more fill-up needed to get through the worst of winter. (Furnace tune-ups have risen quite a bit over the years; I get it done every fall. This year it will cost me about $170.)

So as mentioned, I will do okay through January. I have NOT included any freelance income in my calculation, to supplement the unemployment benefits, because unlike last time, I no longer have the one big freelance client I had before, a real estate brokerage I used to work for. I basically cut the cord when I joined the bank.

It would feel awkward reapproaching them now because what I basically did in my last contact with him was to tell him I couldn't do a job when he gave it to me. It was ghost-writing a long magazine article, something I did every quarter for him. I should have told him in advance so he wouldn't be left in the lurch, and that's why I feel guilty, but I was working f/t at the bank by then and just wasn't thinking that far ahead.

I have just 2 small clients now; one gives me fairly regular work but it pays peanuts and the other is more substantial but rarely gives me work. I am looking for other freelance opportunities, of course, along with p/t, contract and perm jobs. I find that Craig's List is a surprisingly good source of freelance gigs.

Of course, to make ends meet, I'm following the routine I developed last go-round: eliminating entire categories of spending, including clothes, dining out and purely discretionary stuff like that. I'm allowing myself 4 haircuts a year but only when Great Clips has their sales.

Still, I am loosening the reins a little, allowing for my $5 yoga classes on occasional Saturdays.

Working the polls on Election Day for some cash

September 14th, 2016 at 12:24 am

Last Saturday I got a 40-page document to edit from a freelance client. Editing her work is always slow-going as there are a lot of punctuation issues.

Anyway, I was plodding along today and she sent me ann email asking how it was going; I told her I was not quite halfway through and did she have a specific date she needed it by. She replied back she had to send it in tomorrow at 2! I had figured I'd wrap it up by the end of the week.

I was able to finish it up today, thank goodness.

This morning I attended a meeting at the registrar's office about working in the polls on Election Day. Yes, I will be paid $175, but the day will stretch from 5:15 a.m. to 9 p.m., we cannot leave the premises for any reason, yet they don't have a fridge or stove to make lunch or dinner. (My district votes in the middle school gym.) So you must bring your meals in a cooler or have someone you know bring you food during the day, but for voter fraud purposes, they would have to bring you the food when they come to vote, because once they vote, they won't be allowed back in again.

My cats will be fed in the morning but then go without their normal meals til I get home.

I've done this before; the hardest part for me is getting up that early; by November, it will be dark, too, which I hate. I'll have to use an alarm clock. But (sigh) I am a master at making money when I don't have any, and this was one of the little tricks up my sleeve through my long period of unemployment during the recession.

They're expecting a 90% turnout because it's a Presidential election.

Today's walk

September 12th, 2016 at 03:40 pm

Just a local nature center, 60 minutes.

If you build it, they will come:

Luther likes boxes and enclosures of all kinds, and even an 8/5 x 11" copy paper box will do.

I began editing a 40-page assignment from a guardian ad litem who gives me freelance editing to do, very rarely now, so I especially appreciate this assignment.

Last night Dad and I watched The House on 92nd Street, a 1946 spy thriller that was said to be a groundbreaker in that genre back in the day. The reason we watched it is because had said he remembered seeing the German-American Bund camp he attended as a child, in the movie, but we did not see it. Perhaps the movie was edited. We did see a very brief glimpse of a compound which he said looked familiar, but I don't think that was the whole thing.

I see that my sister cashed/deposited her inheritance check, so I went to the bank this morning to close out the account, the very last step in the process. There was $7 and change in interest accrued since I filed the final statement with probate court telling them the amount of the 2 checks I would write. I can't imagine this extra $6 will cause any problems.

I just made 4 micro-loans

September 10th, 2016 at 06:01 pm

I had heard of before, but for some reason when I saw someone posted something about it on facebook today, I rather impulsively went to the site, browsed the many people seeking a small loan, and made 4 $25 loans.

Maybe partly because, just like with the donations of my mother's art to a few non-profits, I want to do good things with my inheritance besides just my retirement.

Kiva has a 97% repayment rate. If it turns out any of my loans are not repaid, I'll chalk it off as a one-time contribution. If they are repaid, and I have every hope that they will be, I will keep reusing the money to make new loans.

You can choose which category of loan types you want to browse. I have a soft spot for women entrepreneurs, and would like to encourage them to achieve financial independence (just like me).

So I donated to a retired woman in Moldova who wanted a few hundred dollars to repair her chicken coop fence. She supplements her retirement with money raised from selling chicken eggs. Her son and grandkids live with her. I liked the photo of her holding one of her chickens.

You get to read a little about the person and why they want the money, along with a photo of them. Since I recently learned from DNA testing I'm half eastern European, I felt good making a loan to a Moldovian resident.

I also made 2 small loans to 2 Ugandan women, one of whom wanted money to purchase organic fertilizer for her farm.

I also made a loan to a Pakistani woman who is a weaver (like my mother) and she wanted money to buy fabric scraps she could weave into yarn for sale. I liked the idea of recycling.

These are real people, with real needs, and if you like the idea of really seeing how your donation will be used (or whether it will be simply absorbed by some faceless charity for administrative costs), Kiva is perfect. Fully 100% of your donation goes to the person you're donating to; Kiva will ask you to add on a small fee to cover their costs, but you can choose not to add that fee if you like.

There were many more people i would have liked to help. Many in countries like the Philippines wanted money for water filtration systems or a latrine. It's very sad that so many in today's world still live in what we might consider squalor.

These are not handouts, these are loans to be repaid. What a great way to help those less fortunate. I may be unemployed right now, but I have been blessed to live in a country like the US with a college education and the ability to buy my own home and support myself these many years. There are others int he world who want to do the same, and sometimes they just need a little leg up.

Insurance savings

September 8th, 2016 at 01:04 am

I paid in full for my car and auto insurance today, totalling $1,526. I always pay in full, even though it hurts, because you get a discount for doing so. I used a credit card (just a normal, non-bonus one) but I should get some kind of points for it.

My agent felt I was over-insured a bit on the house, so we achieved some cost savings there, but he said I seemed a little low on the car, so we beefed that up.

My overall costs are about the same, but when the plan actually renews in October, Safeco (part of Liberty Mutual) will mail me the Right Trak gadget which I'll drive around with for 3 months. No matter what, I'll save an additional 5% just for signing up for the program (that's at least $44), and I have the potential to save up to 30% ($266). You can track your progress online and see how much you're saving, so to me that's fun and very motivating.

It's based on total miles driven, time of day you drive and how fast you brake and start. These are easy things to control so I'm confident and hopeful I can reduce my car insurance down from the current $887 for a 3-year-old Honda.

Next year, I will probably drop my collision, for which I'm now paying about $250, so that would be a big cost savings, though not without some risk.

Another day of not feeling like I accomplished very much. I did some reading for my job search, attended another webinar and got some groceries and gas. I am simultaneously taking webinars on looking for a job and visualizing my future retirement lifestyle. I much prefer the latter, naturally.

Lunch today was finishing up my delish baba ganousch with some healthy crackers (yes, there is such a thing) along with my homemade coleslaw. Dinner was a half cucumber and about a half cup of kidney beans with some salad dressing, along with a half a cantaloupe and a half pint of some really good non-dairy salted cashew/caramel ice cream. Didn't feel like cooking or fussing in the kitchen, I guess.

I'm supposed to be walking 6x weekly and have fallen a bit short of that at times, sometimes for no good reason. I think I have better success when I get out first thing in the morning to do the walk; when I leave it for end of day, I wind up lacking the energy and am thinking more about supper than anything.

Am disappointed I haven't heard back from the Lutheran pastor I emailed in the small town in Germany where my grandfather grew up. Maybe he's busy and will get to me eventually.


September 7th, 2016 at 12:44 am

I haven't slept very well in the last few nights. Each night, the cats have been catching baby mice, which means there are probably a few more somewhere in the basement. Thus far they caught 3 baby mice 3 nights in a row and I caught 2 full grown mice in traps. I feel I need to make sure I get them all or they'll start reproducing. It's strange they would come into the basement when it hasn't been that cold yet.

I am feeling kind of wiped out today. My dad asked me yesterday if I could find a local Nissan dealer and follow him there becushe was having a problem with his battery draining and not recharging. Somehow, it turned into an all-day thing today.

So this morning I drove to dad's (15 minutes) and from there we found the dealer, about 20 minutes from where he lives. We waited there an hour for them to diagnose it, which they didn't do before their lunch break, so by then we left and went to lunch ourselves, back in the town where dad lives. Then he said to just drop him off at home becus he didn't anticipate them calling very soon and he didn't want to get stuck in rush hour traffic so he was planning on picking up his truck tomorrow.

I dropped him at his place and was going to leave, but i saw him hesitate. Turns out he didn't take his house key from the dealer when he gave him the car key! (I know he felt bad that i would have to drive him back to the dealer, but i did take advantage of the situation to remind him i had suggested months ago that he give me a spare key. Or at least get a spare made and leave it hidden somewhere.)Sigh.

So we knew we'd have to go back to the dealer after all, but first he said let's kill some more time, and why not get the meds for your cat, which I told him earlier i had wanted to do, so that was another drive in another direction. On the way back onto the highway, I pulled into our town's new animal shelter to show him the nifty outdoor cat shelter. It's about the size of a shed except the walls are all screen so the cats get the feeling they are outside.

We were about ready again to get on the road to the dealer when they called my dad and told him the remote starter he got after he bought the truck was somehow draining the juice from the battery but that he would need to bring it to whoever installed it to get it fixed. And that since the remote starter was an "after market" add-on, it would not be covered by the trucks's 3-year warranty so my dad would have to pay the $175 diagnostic charge, which they charge by the hour.

We get to the dealership and they have it all put back together again...with the after market remote starter. Dad and i both agreed this was not a good idea, becus he'd be taking his chances of the battery draining again and he'd be stuck somewhere. So we asked them to disconnect it, even though at the moment, they said, it was working perfectly fine.

We had to wait another half hour for them to disconnect it. Anyway, I finally got home around 4 pm.

Oh well. I'm happy to help dad out; he sure has helped me out many times.

I have a variety of little errands beginning to pile up, but nothing that can't wait.

Sunday doings

September 4th, 2016 at 11:46 pm

We've had such a spate of gorgeous weather...not even Hurricane Hermine took away the day's sunshine.

So today was the 3rd day I worked on clearing out the brambles growing in the pachysandra and looming over my side yard. I am pretty much finished with it. It's not perfect, but so much better. There is quite a bit of poison ivy growing near my 3 or 4 blueberry bushes and a few bittersweet vines I could not get to behind them. I sprayed it several times with the vinegar/salt spray.

I did a lot of reading today, just sitting outside on the front porch, a book we'll be discussing on Thursday.

I also went for an hour-long walk in the late afternoon.

I saw a bunch of yellow butterflies puddling on a dirt road in the sunshine. Interesting.

Had dinner with dad last night at his favorite place. Shared with him my DNA results and he agreed to get his tested too; this could shed some interesting light on my results, and we can see how his and mine compare. So I will order the test for him, but first I want to call Ancestry and see if I can get a further discount. I was told a while back they can be pretty flexible.

I stumbled upon what looks like the official home page of the city of Reichenbach, Germany, where my grandfather grew up. I "liked" the page and sent a note mentioning I was researching my family tree but hadn't gotten that far becus i don't speak German. They asked me if I wanted the contact info for the clergyman in Reichenbach, and when i said yes, they sent me a name and an email of the Lutheran pastor there who they feel certain speaks English. Just like that! I doubt my local Chamber of Commerce could be so accommodating.

I had forgotten how in Europe, the churches were the keepers of old family records. I will be very excited to write him this week. I would like to get the address of my grandfather's family there, in case, down the road, I manage to make a trip to Germany again. I could have easily gotten it from grandpa's brother's son, who I briefly corresponded with a number of years ago, but he unexpectedly died. He was in his 60s. I remember him telling me he was the last H*** in Germany. He did not have any children.

I feel I'm learning so much about my family. Ancestry is a big part of it, but not all of it. Each little discovery seems to lead to something else, and I have yet to feel I've exhausted all avenues.

Dad's also got a problem with his battery not holding a charge so I'll be going with him to a Nissan dealer on Tuesday; hopefully he can schedule an appointment for that day. I also need to pick up more meds for Waldo.

WE get so few of these beautiful days here in CT, with low humidity and blue, blue skies. I sat outside wtih my book and an iced tea just enjoying my surroundings and the sound of the crickets. I filled the bird feeder and the chipmunk brazenly ate his fill just 10 feet from me. I enjoyed watching all sorts of bees, some huge carpenter bees, lots of honey bees (wondering if from someone's hive around here tho I don't know anyone who keeps hives) and others, all buzzing around my autumn joy sedums turning a little more pink each day.

I was surprised to see a hummingbird going after my gazania daisies:

My Luminosity subscription expires in 2 days. I have made regular use of it but I can't justify renewing it when I'm not working, so I'll have to lose the games cold turkey.

I thought my dad was going to let me clean his apartment, for pay, but he has again said he doesn't need my help. So I'm going to have to drop it. He's more independent than my mother was, and I find I can't so easily talk him into things. I suspect it's a chivalrous thing, that he doesn't want to make me do housework for him.

Yardwork day

September 2nd, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Here's a very interesting article about the role luck plays in making you wealthy.

Yesterday and today were great weather days, so I decided to use them to do something I've wanted to do since the spring: cut back the invasive brambles growing in the pachysandra on the north side of the house and threatening to creep ever closer to the house.

The situation got pretty bad because last year, when my mother was ill, I did next to no landscaping or gardening.

I also never had gloves thick enough to prevent the humongous thorns from sticking my fingers, but now I have some leather ones which work great.

I worked on it 2 hours yesterday and 4 hours today. There is still more to do but I did cut nearly all of the brambles down to about 2 feet high, and after cutting up and then dragging off the cuttings in my wheelbarrow to dump in the brushy perimeter of the yard (multiple trips), I set to work digging up the stumpy canes where possible.

Not easy work when you're digging in well-established pachysandra and no doubt they'll be springing up in the spring, but I feel I have retaken control of the situation. It doesn't look so overgrown and unkempt. My back is killing me becus throughout all this work i kept all cuttings at arm's length so I wouldn't brush it against my body...possible ticks.

I aborted the effort around 5 pm when I did found a tiny tick on my hand. I went in and took a bath and submerged myself for a while, just in case there were any others I didn't see.

I applied for another job today and did 2 loads of laundry. I air dryed 1 of them on 2 racks I have outside. The 2nd load was my work clothes worn when i was cutting brambles, and those i will put in the dryer as the heat will kill any ticks. Yes, I'm a little paranoid, with good reason, after having lyme disease 3 times.

I've met my spending target for the $200 bonus on my BOA MLB card. I guess I'll need to wait til the next statement is due in about 3 weeks.

I'm reading a book called The Wolf Border for next week's book club. I picked another full size eggplant from the garden. A fat woodchuck has discovered my 3 large pots of string beans thriving in the heat of the driveway. They had small stringbeans on them. The plants were absolutely perfect and unmarred for many weeks now.

I had plastic fencing wrapped around the pots, but the woodchuck stood up on it and began mowing thru it from the top. Luckily still plenty of stringbeans left. I moved them temporarily to the garage overnight, but they won't get enough sun there so I moved them today to my stone stairs at front entry. It's the last stand as I have nowhere else to put them. Generally speaking, I don't think most animals like stairs too much. I put some potted herbs in front of the stringbeans and that's about all I can do.